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Congress, District 1

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Rush
Bobby L. Rush
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 11/23/2012
Occupation: Member of Congress/U.S. House of Representatives
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Carolyn A. Rush

Education:

B.A., General Studies, Roosevelt University
M.A., Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
M.Th., McCormick Theological Seminary

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Beloved Community Christian Church
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.
100 Black Men of Chicago Inc.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Alderman - Chicago City Council, 1983-1993
Ward Committeeman - Cook County Democratic Party, 1984-2008
State Central Committeeman - Democratic Party of Illinois, 1990-present

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

Flynn Rush - Cook County Assessor's Office
Kacy Rush - Chicago Park District

Campaign information
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Rush

Campaign headquarters: 3361 South Dr. M. L. King Drive, Chicago
Website:
Campaign manager: Carolyn A. Rush
Campaign budget:
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.

What are your top three priorities for the nation?
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Rush

My top priority remains the economy and the creation of jobs, with a focus on job creation in the manufacturing sector and through public works projects. I am also focused on helping our nation's homeowners address home foreclosures and/or the devaluation of their homes, youth issues including education, and healthcare. We have made great strides in certain areas during the last few years, but we now must look to ways to put people back to work, stimulate a sustainable economy, and put our youth on a better trajectory in preparation for their future.

What are your specific priorities for your congressional district?
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Rush

My national concerns and priorities are also local concerns and priorities. My district has a high unemployment rate, as adverse economic conditions often reverberate the most in less economically well off districts such as mine. Furthermore, many of our Chicago-area youth are in a state of crisis as a result of our nation's jobs situation and our education system. These issues are inextricably linked to my national concerns and priorities, for if we properly address the economy and our youth concerns nationally in the proper manner, my district can benefit as well.

Many Republican members of Congress have signed the Grover Norquist pledge to not support any tax increase of any kind at any time. Have you, or would you, sign this pledge? Why or why not?
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Rush

No. Last year, in an appearance with the Washington Post Editorial Board, Mr. Norquist, a high profile lobbyist, created a stir when he indicated that he did not consider ending the Bush-era tax cuts a violation of his organization's pledge to vote against any tax hike. "Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase," Mr. Norquist told The Post. "There are certain things you can do technically and not violate the pledge but that the general public would clearly understand is a tax increase," he said. It's clearly a pledge with wiggle room, but more importantly, it is not an effective way for any responsible legislator to make informed public policy decisions from. Such pledges are part of the reason that Washington is now grappling with the "Fiscal Cliff".

Which sitting Supreme Court justice do you admire most and why? Which current justice do you think has been the greatest disappointment and why?
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Rush

I am a great admirer of Justice Sotomayor. As I explained when she was first nominated, Justice Sotomayor's life presents a compelling story -- one that indicates that the plight and problems of the struggling, the working-class and those who live in the margins of society will have a judicial advocate on the high court. I have been greatly disappointed in Justice Thomas. Though there are many justices that I find myself disagreeing with I am still able to respect their decision because it is based on the rule of law and a different, yet valid, interpretation of the Constitution. Justice Thomas, on the other hand, seems to base his rulings in political expediency and advantage.

Is there a problem of a growing income and wealth gap in the United States? If so, what's to be done about it?
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Rush

There certainly is a growing problem of income and wealth disparity in the United States. These conclusions are corroborated by U. S. Department of Commerce, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the Internal Revenue Service data. Further, recent polls show that almost 75 percent of respondents view income inequality as being a problem for our society. Recent statistics have made the empirical case that the top one percent of American earners now control 40 percent of the country's wealth. And other studies, released recently by the CBO reveal that the top one percent of earners experienced rises in income of close to 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, while the bottom 20 percent of earners experienced less than one-tenth of that almost three-fold increase in income over that same period of time.

Is global warming real? What, if anything, should be done about it?
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Rush

I know intimately from my experience in congressional hearings that I have participated in as the Ranking Democratic Member of the House Energy and Power subcommittee, which have included the testimony of leading climate scientists and ecologists, that global warming is very linkable to human activity. Global warming is real. The International Energy Agency (IEA), issued a country-by-country analysis of the levels of carbon pollution that the world will emit over the coming decades from existing energy infrastructure in the power generation, industrial, transportation, and building sectors. This report, World Energy Outlook (WEO) for 2011, has predicted that the world has just five years to shift more aggressively to clean energy before we encounter large temperature increases and likely devastating effects. That report also stated that for every one dollar of investment avoided in the power sector in this decade, over four dollars will need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions with more expensive, aggressive technologies and policies. Global warming is real and it is having tangible and costly effects.

President Obama, working with other nations, has pushed economic sanctions to compel Iran to cease work on a nuclear bomb. Critics say the sanctions are working too slowly and a military strike by the U.S or Israel is necessary. What should be done?
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Rush

I believe President Obama should continue to seek international support in pursuing diplomatic, economic, and political avenues to get the Iranians to comply with international standards and demands. At this point, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. can or should pursue another unilateral war in the Middle East, so it is important to exhaust diplomatic and political channels to bring the Iranians into compliance with United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency demands.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for cutting military spending. Democrats have defended spending cuts as necessary to balancing the federal budget, while insisting they are committed to a strong military. What's your view?
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Rush

As a veteran of the United States Army I am a firm believer in a strong defense. However, that does not mean that I believe this defense should come at the cost of denying our children clean air and water, a quality education, and safe and nutritious food.

How would you reform the financial time bomb of Medicare? Should there be a defined contribution (where the government decides what it will pay) or a defined benefit (where the government guarantees a level of coverage)?
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Rush

Medicare costs have been on the increase as a result of longer hospital stays, increased institutionalization, more frequent physician visits and unfortunately waste, fraud and abuse. I have constantly supported sensible reforms to Medicare, especially those that provide affordable health care coverage to as many needy Americans and their families as possible while instituting curbs and controls on governmental fraud, waste and abuse. In addition, my proposed reforms to Medicare would encourage robust competition among health care and medical device suppliers to drive down soaring healthcare costs and eliminate market inefficiencies. Some of the measures I support are HR 676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, which would permit public and non-profit institutions, including nonprofit HMOs that deliver care in their own facilities, to provide US residents with free health care, including primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services and vision care. Patients under such programs would have the freedom to choose from participating physicians and institutions. Importantly, this program would be funded to a large extent by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners and a modest and progressive excise tax on payroll, self-employment income, and unearned income.

I have also authored legislative bills (including the Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2007 in the 110th Congress) and co-sponsored others in the 112th Congress, including the bi-partisan Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act, H.R. 1041, which would repeal and re-design a non-competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment and prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. Under the existing bidding program, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, patients are being harmed because services are being curtailed as a result of unsustainable pricing and quality and delivery of such items and services have slipped significantly.

On the issue of abortion, the two major political parties take very different stands. The Democratic platform supports a woman's right to seek a "safe and legal" abortion, regardless of her ability to pay. The Republican platform states that the "unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed." The Republican platform does not address whether exceptions should be made to a ban on abortions, such rape or incest. Where, if anywhere, do you part company with your party's platform on abortion?
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I support the Democratic platform, which supports a woman's right to seek a "safe and legal" abortion. I believe this issue is one best left to the woman and her family and shouldn't be dictated by the federal government.

The Democratic Party platform, for the first time, supports civil gay marriage, but adds that churches should be allowed to administer marriage as a sacrament as they see fit, "without government interference." The Republican Party platform calls for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman." Where do you stand?
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Rush

I believe that same sex couples should be entitled to the same legal protections and benefits as other individuals in this country and as such, I support the Democratic Party platform that supports civil gay marriage, but also allows churches to administer marriage as they see fit "without government interference".

On the issue of Social Security, the Republican Party platform proposes making no changes in the system for "any current or near-retiree" but envisions allowing younger workers to choose personal investment accounts as "supplements." The Democratic platform pledges to "find a solution" and warns of subjecting a retiree's benefits to the "whims of the stock market." What should be done?
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I do not support efforts that would address the deficit in any way that would reduce Social Security benefits for more than 55 million older and disabled Americans and for the young children and spouses of deceased and disabled workers. Social Security underpins the retirement income of 36 million Americans; allowing another 6 million widows or widowers and 10 million working families to survive. Social Security protects Americans who work or have worked for pay and their families. 156 million Americans paid into Social Security in 2010 and 205 million people in 2009 to qualify for retirement and survivorship benefits. Efforts to modernize or reform our Social Security system to align it with today and tomorrow's economic realities should not mean that Social Security is dismantled. It is imperative that efforts be made to improve our social security. Recognizing that Social Security is projected to be insolvent by 2036, I would consider raising the retirement age, but would not be in favor of changing the benefit formula. I would also be in favor of supporting raising the earning income cap for Social Security, as President Obama's Social Security tax taskforce has outlined and I believe it should be raised to the level where taxation will be fair to both workers and employers, significantly contributing to reducing of Social Security's long standing deficit.

Do you support "right-to-work" laws, now in effect in 23 states and promoted in the Republican Party platform, that limit the extent to which labor unions can require membership and the paying of union dues as a condition of employment? Or do you agree with the Democratic Party platform that such laws are "attacks" on the right of workers to organize?
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I support the right of workers to organize as a collective bargaining unit.

What further federal legal restrictions should be imposed on guns of any kind?
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For the past few Congresses, I have introduced legislation that would require that every gun sold would have to be registered and every gun owner would have to be licensed. I look at the model we employ for vehicles, where every automobile has a VIN number and every driver must be licensed and I believe that we can replicate that model with how we treat guns in this country. We should have a GIN number for handguns and gun owners should be licensed with the state. While opponents of gun control laws are quick to use the old adage "guns don't kill people, people kill people" I would counter that flooding our streets with unregistered weapons without law enforcement having the ability to track the flow of guns into communities like Chicago is a detriment to society that must be addressed.

The Republican Party platform calls for a mandatory requirement that employers verify the legal status of their employees and rejects any amnesty for illegal immigrants. The Democratic Party platform calls for reforming the American immigration system to bring "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" and requires them to "get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship." Which approach do you favor? Most specifically, what should be done?
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Rush

Policy makers must remember that our nation was built by immigrants, and that they continue to make it the great country it is today. While I recognize the extreme importance of controlling the inflow of immigrant populations, it is important to keep in mind that they deserve to be treated fairly. President Obama has expressed his will to reform our immigration system and I fully support a comprehensive reform effort, as I have in the past. Such a comprehensive strategy should include 1) strong border security measures, 2) proper and equitable enforcement, 3) stringent penalties for employers who contribute to the problem by hiring undocumented workers, driving down competition, 4) an improved temporary guest-worker program with safeguards against employer abuse and, 5) a fair pathway to legalization for current immigrants who reside in our nation.

The candidates
Bobby L. Rush

Bobby L. Rush

Donald Peloquin

Donald Peloquin

 

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The district
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